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Another Wardrobe Malfunction Thanks To RA

It happened again.  And it’s far less exciting than Janet Jackson exposing herself at the Super Bowl, but possibly no less embarrassing.

Although this time I was at home…But no one else was at home with me to help.

I planned to wear a dress that I hadn’t worn in a while, and steroids be damned, I’ve gained weight in places that just made the dress not wearable.  And I hadn’t had the foresight to realize this and try the dress on before I actually had to get dressed and go to where I was going…in order to avoid getting stuck in it.

But then I couldn’t get it off.  And I couldn’t very well actually wear the dress.

To be clear, I was stuck because of RA.  The fact that I’ve gained weight due to steroids and didn’t feel comfortable wearing the dress is an unfortunate byproduct of RA that I’ll talk about at another time.

But anyway…In an act of complete desperation, I started searching for the scissors.  I really thought I would have to end up cutting the dress off of myself.

And this time, I was practically driven to tears because I was so frustrated.  Is this really happening to me again?  And no one was coming home before I had to leave, so I was really on my own this time.

As embarrassed as I was the last time this happened, being in a store, and being stuck in a dress, at least there were other people around I could beg for help.

I had a few options.  I considered throwing another dress in my bag, putting on my pink trench coat, and discreetly having my boyfriend help me out of the offending dress once we met up where we were going.  But this wasn’t the best option because I would end up seeing other people before him, and they would probably wonder what the heck was wrong with me, why I wouldn’t take my coat off.

And my visions of wearing a trench coat (and only a trench coat) for my boyfriend involves sexiness and seduction – not that, that has or ever will happen – not help me out of this dress because I’m stuck and I can’t get out of it.  Because that is so totally not sexy.

Why does RA have to be such a buzz kill?  I want to feel young and sexy and beautiful, and instead I end up feeling old and boring and fat.  I don’t want to have to worry about getting stuck in clothing, and I don’t want to have to worry about unmitigated steroid bloat.

I think what we really need is a device like one of those Life Alert things.  You know, the whole “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”, but instead, the message is, I’m stuck and I can’t get out.  Please help!  Come quick!

While I’ve learned that I can’t maneuver well with buttons and snaps, my fashion sense may still be skewed toward look rather than comfort and ease of maneuvering in and out of clothing – especially when it comes to dresses – because who really wants that to supersede fashion?

So how did I escape this time?  Well, it was a magic trick that rivals Houdini.  I can’t say how much time went by because I’m sure it felt longer than it actually was.  I shimmied (did a horrible, uncoordinated little dance) using my arms and torso, and eventually I was able to get out of the dress.  But by then I was sweaty and exhausted.  I didn’t want to go anywhere, and I wanted to get into my pajamas, which I can get in and out of very easily.  If that’s one thing RA has taught me, I probably hold the world record for getting from “real” clothes into pajamas in seconds.

But I’m glad I didn’t have to cut myself out of my dress, because it is a cute dress, and one I plan to wear again as soon as this stupid steroid bloat subsides.

In the grand scheme, this may seem minor, like there are so many more important things to worry about when it comes to RA.  But it’s important that those around us – our doctors, our families, our friends, understand that quality of life encompasses a lot of different aspects of life, and these everyday difficulties should be acknowledged and understood.  Because this is what life with RA looks like for far too many of us.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Sharon
    6 years ago

    Boy, can I relate. Over the past 30+ years, I have had to switch from pretty, sexy shoes to clunky earth-type shoes, which do NOT go well with business dress attire. I switched to elastic waists in everything I could after getting stuck with my pants unzipped. Shirts a size too large, ensuring being able to pull it on over my head (someone else has to pre-button it). I have tools to help button and zip, but they can be just as hard to maneuver.

  • Denise Flint
    6 years ago

    I have just been diagnosed about 7months ago, but I still believe that I have had RA for about 4 years or more, but of cours know one would test me for it or believe me. I was finally tested in the ER for Lymes Disease, which came back positive, went to a specialist and he said, with no further testing that it was a false positive, that I had fibromylagia. Not being happy with the results, because we all know we know our own bodies better then anyone. I persuaded my PCP for further testing. And of course positive for RA, so for the last 7 months, I have been on steriods everyday, methotraxate, which by the way got me so sick, that he had to change it to one pill every other day, and folic acid..add this to all the other medication I already take every day. So now I am up to 15 pills per 49 years old. So to get back to the response to the letter from Leslie, I no longer can open anything, jars, door knobs, have a hard time driving, doing dishes, buttons forget it, zippers are getting there. To put it mildly it sucks. I joined this forum do to the fact of the great out look you all have, I hope that it rubs off on me. But at this point, I just want to wrap my self up in my blanket and lay around all day. I have a 2 year old granddaughter, that is the love of my life and I cant enjoy her like I want to. I was always so full of life and energetic but now, I have turned into a lazy old lady. As far as getting dressed up I have my daughters wedding in 2015, and I hope by then, it is more under control..Thanks for listening..

  • Janine Thiemann
    6 years ago

    My daughter was getting married so I went shopping for a Mother of the Bride dress. My husband was with me. I found a few dresses and tried them on. Being the positive person I am I was hopeful I could get dresses on and off without one of my girls who are usually with me.
    About the second dress realized this dress with no zipper wasn’t going on easily but too late by that time. After a minute of anxiety and panicking I took deep breath and somehow got the dress off by bending over and pulling harder than I probably should have.
    I have severe RA so have very limited joint function so typically I don’t try on clothing at stores without a daughter with me.
    The good news is I found the perfect dress for the wedding (no zipper but that’s life) at an amazing price.

  • Sue Ervin
    6 years ago

    I can identify with your predicament. My husband says he didn’t know how to put a bra on me. One time early in my RA journey the rest of family left for work and school, when I tried to open the door I couldn’t open it. As I was going to call my neighbor she drove by, we live in the country, so I was trapped in my house. I decided from the start I wasn’t giving into this thing, so I sucked it up and in tears turned the knob. By the next week we had lever handles. Lol

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